Tesco drops final Thai libel action

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Litigious supermarket giant Tesco has dropped its £1.6m libel claim against Thai journalist Kamol Kamoltrakul.

Kamol had criticised Tesco’s expansion in Thailand in the Bangkok Business News. The Guardian reports that Tesco discontinued the case against Kamoltrakul last July because he was suffering ill health, but it has only now come to light.

Speaking to Press Gazette in April 2008 Kamoltrakul said: ‘To use the law of criminal libel – which they are using in one of the other actions – seems to me incredibly menacing and seems to be done with the purpose of inhibiting criticism. If these guys can’t pay the fine, the penalties are bankruptcy and debtor’s jails, which are very unpleasant places. It’s a very heavy way of treating critics.”

It was one of three libel cases being pursued by Tesco in Thailand, which has far more stringent libel laws than the UK. One of the others was settled with an apology and the other defeated in court.

The Guardian was sued by Tesco in 2008 after it get some of its facts wrong in an investigation into the retailer’s tax dealings. The Guardian was given a costs bill of more than £800,000 from lawyers Carter Ruck after opting to settle the case.

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